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February 24, 2011
Faux-eco. I think I should coin the term. Or Fauxco! (I love porte-manteaux!)
Anyhow, to add a little more flavour to the already complex list of scams, now “fairwashing” is another phenomenon to look out for…as in, companies claim Fair Trade Certification, when indeed only a trace amount of ingredients, by weight, can be considered fair trade.
Check out this formal complaint from the Organic Consumers Association and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps regarding Queen Helene and Mark by Avon’s false fair trade certifications.
Here’s what it comes down to: be aware of false certification. Whereas fair trade claims add value by promoting awareness, it might not be the best way to use your spending power since it does very little, or indeed nothing, to actually create a fair trade between farmers and manufacturers. TransFair (aka “Fair Trade USA”), for example, has pretty lax standards in approving products to be certified fair trade. And by lax, I mean 2% fair trade.
2%? That’s nothing. That’s .3 g in a 15 g product, like a lipbalm tin….which is something like a single drop of oil that’s fair trade. They do this because they licence out their logo that LOOKS super legit, for a fee. So obviously the more products it can “approve”, the more money they can make. I am a little unclear whether or not the farmers in these supposed fair trades are compensated in any way, but my spidey senses advise my that nay, they are not. So I say, burn in hell TransFair (oops, too much coffee today).
For actual fair trade products, check out companies approved by the Fair Trade Federation instead.
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